1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #15 - Sleeping Beauty

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #15 - Sleeping Beauty

Disney Animation Review: 16/53 - Sleeping Beauty

Ryan Dosier - Although it is one of the more widely popular Disney animated features, Sleeping Beauty is one of the weakest stories in the Disney classics family. There are some truly breathtaking aspects of the film, but the shoddy storytelling is absolutely not one of them.

The story of Princess Aurora is baffling because she is not the main character, she doesn’t change at all, and she causes nothing to happen. The true heroes of the piece are Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, the three fairies. They come up with the plan to save Aurora from Maleficent, they ruin the plan, and they are the ones who save Prince Phillip, fight all of his fights, and even give him the power to slay the dragon.

It makes one wonder why Aurora and Phillip were necessary to the story at all when the three fairies could have easily done everything by themselves. Both Aurora and Phillip are forgettable characters, sharing only one decent moment with the song “Once Upon a Dream.” Beyond that they fumble and falter and lose all characterization.

Maleficent, on the other hand, is Sleeping Beauty's strongest character by far. The mistress of evil lives up to her name and strikes with power and ferocity. She is deliciously evil, sarcastic, and cruel, which makes for the greatest Disney villain yet. Maleficent has power and inspires fear in everyone. Her demise was far too simple for such a powerful character.

The most impressive, striking, and breathtaking aspect of Sleeping Beauty is, by far, the layouts and background designs. The colors are so sharp and the details are so meticulous that each frame is worthy of a museum. There are stylistic liberties taken with trees and other background elements that make them simplistic yet detailed. It shouldn’t work but it does beautifully. I can’t say enough about the stunning artwork done for Sleeping Beauty. There is simply none better.

But again, the weak story and characters plague the movie horribly. The plot is so weak that the filmmakers had to insert random scenes of the kings drinking and the fairies cooking and cleaning. The entire first act of the movie could have been summed up in five minutes but it takes half an hour. Even the music of the film is lackluster. An unseen, operatic chorus performs most of the songs, which is distracting and bizarre. The only song that works is “Once Upon a Dream,” which makes for one of Sleeping Beauty's most perfect sequences.

Sleeping Beauty was an awkward transition from the 50s to the 60s for the Disney animation studio. The film loses the strong story elements of the 50s in favor of the strong stylistic elements of the 60s. It is unfortunate that they couldn’t come together to make a better film. Instead, Sleeping Beauty is a stylistic master class with a tremendous villain, a forgettable princess, oddly heroic fairies, a dull, pointless story, and lacks the magic and the impressiveness of Walt Disney in the 50s.

2/5 Blue Dresses

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